For those who miss(regularly missed) their chemistry classes.

Posted on: August 30, 2007

It was unlike any other Physical Chemistry classes we had during our 4th Semester of Engineering. That day we were going to learn about Catalysts. It is Mr. R. Ramaswamy(R.R.) who’s going to take session on the same topic during second hour. We knew almost everything about Catalysts from school day itself, but the one we’re going to learn from Ramaswamy remarked as most thrilling session we ever had. The question now is not “What did he explained?”, but “How did he explained?”. So hook yourself on and I’ll take you through the session.

Boring Definition from Book: Certain substances whose presence alters the rate of a reaction are called Catalysts, but the catalyst does not involve in any chemical change. The chemical reaction in the presence of Catalyst is known as Catalysis.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “For an instance, we’ll take a boy and girl as two reactants. Both boy and girl has possibility to love each other but, unable to propose each other. So, you’ll take help of her friend to give a good impression about you. For example, If boy takes 2 years to propose a girl independently, then it’s too long and by that time some other boy will take her and will run away, then what you will do?. Therefore, A third person i.e. Catalyst can do them in just 2 months, great alva?(isn’t it?). It’s the quality of Catalyst to increase the rate of reaction between boy and girl. Unfortunately if your friend i.e. catalyst himself/herself proposes your boy/girl instead of helping you, then he cannot be called as Catalyst, he is called as third reactant.”

Types of Catalysts:

Positive Catalyst:
Boring Definition from Book: A Catalyst which increases the rate of reaction is known as Positive Catalyst or Catalyst.

Eg: MnO4 is used as a Positive Catalyst to decompose KClO3 and liberate O2.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “This is nothing but a normal Catalyst that we already discussed. Positive catalyst is a person who engages boy and girl with a good attitude towards them.”

Negative Catalysts:
Boring Definition from Book: The Catalyst which decrease the rate of a reaction are called Negative Catalysts or Inhibitors.

Eg: Heavy Water(D2O) is used as an inhibitor to slow down the uncontrollable nuclear reaction.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “I don’t think I need to say anything about this person. He’s just opposite to Positive Catalyst. Be careful about him, he can be with you as friend and he increases the distance between you and your girl, husshaar!(be alert).”

Auto Catalyst:
Boring Definition from Book: In certain reactions, the reaction rate suddenly increased even in the absence of Catalyst. It is due to one of product formed can Catalyse that reaction and that product acts as Auto Catalyst.

Eg: When Ethyl Acetate is hydrolised into ethyl alcohol and acetic acid the product acts as an Auto Catalyst and increases the speed of reaction.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “This boy is a very brave and self-driven. He may be kind of short tempered, he will not wait until a proper time to come. Somehow he gets lots of courage and drives himself to ask the girl. Unexpectedly by luck girl agrees to love him. Therefore auto catalyst is a brave boy. The courage in him acts as auto catalyst.”

Induced Catalyst:
Boring Definition from Book: One chemical reaction influence the speed of other chemical reaction which not possible under ordinary condition, such Catalysts are called as Induced Catalysts.

Eg: Sodium Sulfite solution is readily oxidised by air, but Sodium Arsenide solution is not oxidised by air. If air is passed through a mixture of Sodium Sulfite and Sodium Arsenide solution both are oxidised. Therefore Sodium sulfite is Induced Catalyst.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “Here’s another boy. This man is like a master, he makes other follow him. He will propose a girl and luckily she agrees. This makes other boys jealous, they will propose other girls, sometimes they too will get successful. Therefore the boy is called as Induced Catalyst. All boys who follow Induced Catalysts are called Bakras, because they’ll not do anything of their own, they always follow others. We call this as herd-ish behaviour, they are Naalaayaks(useless).”

Boring Definition from Book: In certain Catalytic reactions some other substance is not a Catalyst, but whose presence increases the activity of Catalyst and therefore the Catalytic activity of the reaction is further increase. Such substances are called Promoters.

Eg: In the manufacture of Ammonia by Haber’s process in the presence of Fe Catalyst to the reaction mixture a small quantity of Molebdinum is added which increases the activity of Catalyst. Therefor Molebdinum is the Promoter.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “This is a Catalyst for a Catalyst. This could be a girlfriend or boyfriend of a existing Catalyst who’s already helping a pair to engage. It is like you are helping your friend then you are a Catalyst, your girlfriend sits on your head and forces you to do this more faster, then your girfirend is a Promoter, gothaaitha?(understood?).”

Catalytic Poison:
Boring Definition from Book: Certain substances whose presence decreases the activity of Catalyst and therefore they may decrease the rate of reaction, sometimes they destroy reaction. Such substances are called as Catalytic Poison.

Eg: Even a small amount of Arsenic destroy the activity of Platinum Catalyst in the manufacture of Sulfuric Acid by Contact Process.

Interesting Explanation from Ramaswamy: “I call this person as Villain. When you are helping your friend, this person suddenly comes and starts spoiling everything. He will complain your parents and their parents and creates chaos and spoils everything. He/she can be your ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend.”

Soon after the session got over, everybody started looking each other’s face. We soon identified who are reactants, their catalysts and other types of Catalysts existing in classroom.

I have practice of naming my best supporters as Catalysts. Here they are:

  • We called our best lecturers R. Ramaswamy and H.S. Yamuna as Catalysts.
  • A boss of one of my previous company who helped me to complete my education and boosted my career prospects to next level.
  • A girl who always used to help me to win card games while going back home in company cab. And she’s the latest addition to the list of Catalysts.

Please share your Chemistry classroom experiences and Catalysts in your life with me here.


7 Responses to "For those who miss(regularly missed) their chemistry classes."

the interesting explanations are truly hilarious!!!
thanks a lot for this post.
sharing a few chemistry jokes:

Q: If H-two-O is the formula for water, what is the formula for ice?
A: H-two-O-CUBED


Q: Why do chemists call helium, curium and barium the medical elements?
A: Because if you can’t helium or curium, you barium!


At the end of the semester, a 10th-grade chemistry teacher asked her students what was the most important thing that they learned in lab. A student promptly raised his hand and said, “Never lick the spoon.”

As the name defines, “Boring Definition” itself is boring because it is an ditto extract from book. “Interesting Explanation” sounds interesting because it is delivered by the thoughts and experiences of lecturer though his voice. You can notice the spoken English is not upto to level, because most of lecturers we’ve gone through are not that good at English but are very knowledgeable and worth learning under them.

Finally thank you a lot for reading this article.

Thats Hilarious!!!!!!!!!

Sakkath Koooool magaaa!!!!! My Chemistry knowledge is not good. But i hav good chemistry with Friends!!

Hi Bala,
Nicely written dude,,,,,,,,,,
thanks that you still remember your college you remind me of my college days that chemistry lab(we use to call Acid lab)….. College days,school dyas are such moments which we will never ever forget.
By the way who is that girl who use to help you in cab…..whats her name………?

Bala first of all I enjoyed reading this article. Its damn gud ra… Iam still not able to control my laugh.. And BTW, I know who was d catalyst who helped u win card games.. Guys for futher queries contact me! 🙂 cheers!!

Smart teachers teach in smart ways !!
Enjoyed the narrative.
We had a Chem lecturer. Her two year old child would say : A for Argon,B for Boron ,C for Carbon and so one…

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